Disney’s Camp Rock

‘Disney’s Camp Rock – the musical’ (cast – Orange team). The green and orange teams alternated throughout their season that covered two venues. On seeing the quality of the first team, I thought the producers were lucky to get so much talent, but for them to stage a second team of actors, I thought they were possibly pushing their luck – but no, they found yet another group with immense talent.

‘Disney’s Camp Rock – the musical’ was created around the Disney Channel movies one and two, which were based on a book by Robert L. Freedman and Faye Greenberg.
This wonderful musical has just finished a hugely successful, eight-day season at the Kalamunda Performing Arts Centre. It can now be seen – for three days only – at the Koorliny Main Theatre, in The Koorliny Arts Centre at Kwinana.
The 100-minute, action-packed performances are on Friday 17th, Saturday 18th, and Sunday 19th March at 7.00. There are matinées on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th at 2.00 pm.
The review that follows contains much of the Kalamunda review, the main cast members alternate and this is the show’s supplementary cast.
For a decade, Mel Vivian and Paula Garner have seen children with amazing talent, and nowhere to go. Ignoring the saying ‘never work with children’, and then in a possible memory loss or drunken stupor, they decided to set a group for 60 youngsters aged from 12 to 17, in order to tap into this remarkable flair, ‘BLACK BOX performing arts’ was formed.

The stage is open. Gary Wetherilt’s set depicts a youth camp, for youngsters with musical potential. A large bridge with steps up each side crosses from one side of the lake to the other – linking two opposing camps. A banner on the bridge railings tells us in which camp we are. The realistic woodwork painting was by Stephen McGarrity.
A glowing campfire smokes at the side of the stage. The stage manager Janene Zampino supervised stagehand Ryan Marlow. The stage team ensured smooth entrances and exits for the massive cast, not a single build up in the wings, a miracle with any youths’ show.
Alexander Coutts-Smith’s lighting design was vivid, sparkling, and audacious. Great work too from the sound designers and technicians, Justin Friend and Alexander Coutts-Smith.
The lively, melodic band was hidden behind black drapes at the rear of the stage.
The musical director, Phoebe Jackson, conducted the band. The balance between the instruments was perfect and their delivery was appropriate for each scene; sometimes belting it out for a Camp Rockers full ensemble number, and yet soft for a duet. Perfect accompaniment.
Playing David Lawrence’s arrangement and orchestration were: – on keyboards are Jay Anderson and Mitchell Price-Norgaard, on guitars were Braydon Mazza and Scott Delamotte, bass was Meg Vicensoni, and on drums Julian Kissling.

     Brown (Tim Campbell) used to be in a famous pop group, but has now set up Camp Rock on a minimum budget. The idea is to help underprivileged youngsters with stars in their eyes, who are hoping to become rock stars. There is one bitchy girl, Tess (Mia Martin – plenty of attitude), filled with her own self-importance, who seems to be extremely wealthy and has many famous contacts on her mobile phone.
     A group of girls from last year’s camp, Caitlyn (Stephanie Stockbauer), Peggy (Maddi Thomas), Rachel (Aaliyah Thompson), and Ella (Imogen Dearlove) are gathered, waiting to find out if all of their old group will be back.
      Barron (Sebastian Vidot),Sander (Natalija Sparaovich) and Andy (Jacob Clayton) all arrive eager to show off their new Hip Hop skills. A shy, nervous girl appears, she is Rosie (Mollie McGarrity), and Mitchie (Matilda Jenkins, great voice) warmly welcomes her. However, the love of Mitchie’s life, Shane (Presley Massara) is late. Eventually, he arrives with his brothers, drummer Nate (Cooper Jenkins), and the wacky guitarist, Jason (Charlie Martin).
     Brown is horrified to find that an old musician friend, Axel Turner (Ben Kotovski-Steele), has established Camp Star directly across the lake. Axel has the latest equipment and every comfort. His daughter, Dana (Sian Bussanich) is also highly talented, and is soon spotted by Nate, but with so much hate between the two camps, can they ever meet?
     The Camps’ final Jam is nearing, it is to be on National TV, and the TV reporter, Georgina (Fay Groom) is on her way, the two camps are now at war.
The Ensemble comprised:- Mitchell Bailey, Leona Barnes, Toby Crestini, Sienna Freeman, James Hurley, Liam Hurley, Andrea Jordan-Keane, Aimee-Rose Keppler, Ellie Marsh, Holly Newton, Adeson Oyesope, Isabella Rath, Charlotte Roberts, Olivia Roelofs, Sophie Simpson, Ellie Van Kwawegan, Kiara Vivian, Jack Wheeler, Connie Wetherilt, Erin Whitehead, Tayah Wilson and Alexia Zammit.

Faced with a mob of youngsters, director Katherine Freind, had a mountain to climb in producing this show, however, with the strong backing of both the choreographer Shanice-Kalina Thompson and the musical director, Phoebe Jackson, the task became a mere marathon!
The cast of sixty had numerous costume changes, many were their own clothes, but when two outfits of gold lamé and scarlet sequins being required, costumière Michaela Pavlov still ensured a stunning line up.
Trying to assess children’s shows can be embarrassing, sometimes even the doting grandparent think it is ‘average’. Often one can split the cast into three groups, the half dozen singers specially imported for certain scenes. Then there are the dancers, again from a specialised school, for the opening and finale. The acting is often a disaster with no drive, no chemistry, and little understanding what the script means. Well this show has blown that theory apart. EVERY child had ALL of the skills by the bucket load.
Shanice-Kalina has choreographed the most energetic and complex dance routines. Heads wobbled, bodies rotated, arms twisted, knees knocked and the feet tapped – often altogether – and yet not a single performer became confused, struggled, or lost beat. They smiled and were amazing; any professional adult troupe would be struggling to keep up.
In the choruses, I always listen for that one flat, strangulated note that the less talented child produces. No, once again the teamwork was brilliant. There were several solos and duets performed with perfect melody and emotion – very well done Matilda, Presley, Cooper, Mia, and Luis.
Reading the programme notes for each performer made me gasp. These performers have been in major professional productions, in every theatre in the Perth area. His or her CVs would make anyone jealous.
A small low, to the mother of the 18-month girl who yelled, threw objects, cried, and lept around for the first hour of the show, you made it unbearable for the audience and hard on the performers – possibly even your own child who was up there trying hard. Thank you to the wonderful usherette.
This show, like the Kalamunda production, retained its energy right to the closing notes. The show was an absolute pleasure to watch, thanks to the enormously talented bunch of kids and the patience of their teachers. I look forward to their next production.